Each month, I meet with other entrepreneurs in a Charlotte Mastermind Group. Our meeting location is a branch of the Carolina Premier Bank in South Charlotte. The venue is comfortable and we enjoy complementary Wifi, coffee, and super soft and cozy executive chairs. Yesterday, in the middle of our meeting, a man wearing a suit with a bright green tie barged in and introduced himself as John S. Kreighbaum, President & Chief Executive Officer of the bank. He asked us what we were doing in his executive conference room, and after we told him, he applauded our commitment to taking the time to strive for excellence in community. He then delivered a fifteen-minute keynote speech on how to brand yourself for success. Here is the photo (yes, I chased him down in the hall after he finished his impromptu presentation) I asked him to pose for after he was done, and he was gracious and patient enough to oblige me. We are pictured with Catherine Nations, Treasure Management Specialist at the bank.
Along with my colleagues, I was mesmerized by Mr. Kreighbaum's “presentation.” He just kept going and going, spewing out golden nuggets while we took notes as fast as we could. There was so much richness in his conversation, that I just had to share what I learned with you. Here it is, as best as I can decipher from the chicken scratch on my notepad. It's paraphrased of course, so forgive me Mr. Kreighbaum if I remembered anything incorrectly.
- Do it your way. Whether you are in a corner office or your own business, don't be limited by methods employed by others. Don't do what others think you should do. Take the bull by the horns and do what you think you are called to do, and do it your way.
- Buck the norm. Be distinctive. Look at what's normal and do the opposite.
- Incorporate themes. When you speak, write, and engage with your customers, try to do so around themes that matter to them. If your customers care about the personal touch you offer in your business, then talk with them about that theme and how you use it to help make their lives better.
- Create and grow your own personal brand. No matter where you work or what you do, you have a personal brand. Create it and then tell people what it is. Make it stand for something.
- Don't let anyone dilute your brand. Stand up for yourself and your hard work. If you stand for something, make it crystal clear, and don't let anyone damage or undervalue what you stand for.
- Be genuine. Just be yourself. Here's a direct (almost) quote from this part: “I don't walk around here like I'm Mr. Big Shot. I speak to people, I relate to them, I encourage them to look me in the eye so we are on the same level. I'm the guy who will barge into your meeting and just start talking to you. Do you know any other bank presidents who would do that?”
We all shook our heads — nope, never had that happen before.
- Interact with your customers. Consider it a pleasure to interact with your customers. Honor them by speaking to them and making sure they know how pleased you are that they chose to do business with you.
- Use your imagination. Don't be limited by what you can see. See beyond your means and your situation today. Look into the future of what your life can and will be like if you apply yourself.
- Life is about relationships. Life (and business) is all about relationship dynamics. Another (almost) direct quote: “I would fire anyone who sent a loan package to a customer via email. We don't work that way. We send it to you in the mail, in our branded folders with a real ink signature. That's how we want to relate to you. How many other banks do that?”
The eye contact I had with him as he spoke was very powerful. It wasn't so much the words he spoke. I've heard many of them before. What struck me was the confidence with which he burst onto the scene. He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he had something say to us, and he didn't hesitate.
He just came on the scene in the middle of our meeting and Just. Started. Talking.
When you're the CEO, you can do that. and that's another lesson in and of itself.
About John Kreighbaum
John S. Kreighbaum is president & CEO of Carolina Premier Bank. He has over twenty-five experience years as CEO/President in both the multi-bank holding company environment and regional/community banking. He is a graduate of the Stonier Graduate School of Banking, Rutgers University. He has served numerous civic, industry and community organizations, including a term as an elected member of the Small Bank Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Most recently Mr. Kreighbaum has been appointed to The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s Charlotte, N.C. Branch Board of Directors for a three-year term.
Here is an article about Carolina Premier Bank's partnership with The Urban League of the Central Carolinas to help serve individuals and busineses traditionally left out of main street banking.
This article is an interesting read about his personality and his vision for Carolina Premier Bank.
If you're in the Charlotte area, you can hear him speak at 6pm at the The Comedy Zone at 900 NC Music Factory Blvd. Suite B3, in Charlotte. Learn more about that event on the Indie Business Facebook Page.
1. Has anything like this ever happened to you?
2. What branding tips and experiences can you add to what Mr. Kreighbaum shared with us?
3. Would you have chased him down the hall for a blog post, like I did? 🙂